By Karen Hodges Miller
It’s a great time to be an author. There are more ways to publish a book than ever before as well as more ways to find and connect with your readers. But the low cost and ease with which books can now be published has also created a downside for authors. There is more competition for readers’ dollars than ever before.
The days of the solitary writer sitting at a desk and creating while a publisher handles all the tawdry details of marketing and selling a book are gone – if they ever really existed. Today’s writer is a small business person, an expert not only in creating a great product – a book, but in marketing, distributing and selling it, too.
There are as many ways to market a book as there are authors who write them. The first step toward effective marketing is to develop a plan. Too many authors run helter skelter when marketing their book. They start a blog, write for a few weeks, then lose interest and quit writing. They send a press release to five or 10 media outlets without doing any follow-up, then get discouraged when they get no response from the media. They are asked to do a workshop by a local organization and get great feedback, but never send out requests to speak to other organizations, then wonder why they never get another request to speak.
Do any of these scenarios sound like you? If so, stop right now and develop a marketing plan for you and your book. Start with a budget. Yes, there are many marketing activities that are either free or very low-cost, but you still must start by thinking about how much money you have and are willing to spend on marketing your book. You get what you pay for, after all. Be realistic about your budget. Do you need business cards? Do you need materials for a seminar? How many books will you give away as promotional copies to reviewers, prospective clients, etc.? It all costs money. Write it down.
Once you’ve decided on a budget, ask yourself which types of marketing you can do yourself and for which will need the help of a book publicist or marketer. Sure, you can write a news release that will get you into the local paper, but if your goal is an interview on a national news show, you’ll need help in getting there. No one starts out with an interview in The Wall Street Journal or on a national talk show. Get your feet wet with local marketing, then regional marketing, then go for the national audience.
Here is a sample of an easy plan you can use to develop your own marketing plan and budget.
Marketing Activity: News release for local publications, TV, and radio announcing publication of book by local author
1. Find list of all appropriate media outlets in county
2. Identify the proper person at each outlet and the person’s preferred contact method
3. Write news release
4. Distribute news release via e-mail and snail mail and include copies of your book or book excerpts where appropriate
5. Follow-up with telephone calls
Budget: $100 for postage, copies of book to be distributed to the media
Yes, marketing takes time and costs money, but it can pay for itself in increased sales of your book and increased recognition of you as an expert in your field.
While over 80 percent of Americans say they want to write a book, most never will. Karen Hodges Miller offers her 25-plus years of experience as writer, editor and publisher to entrepreneurial authors who want to realize that dream. She holds a variety of workshops and seminars each year on book writing, publishing and marketing. Karen’s experience as a freelance business reporter gives her a fresh outlook on the creative world of writers and the practical world of business owners. As founder of Open Door PublicationsSM LLC Karen has helped dozens of authors bring their own ideas to market; the company published almost two dozen books since 2006. Karen began authoring her own series of books for authors in 2010. “Finish Your Book! A Time Management Guide for Writers” is a practical and inspirational guide for the busy writer who must find time to write while juggling a business and personal life. “Sell Your Book, Think Outside the Bookstore,” to be published in April 2011, includes over 100 practical, specific tips for book marketing along with interviews with a variety of nationally-known publishing and marketing experts. Learn more about Karen at www.OpenDoorPublications.com.
Image courtesy of Steven Goodwin, http://www.7rains.com.